November 18, 2014 / 6:13 AM / 4 years ago

PRESS DIGEST - Wall Street Journal - Nov 18

Nov 18 (Reuters) - The following are the top stories in the Wall Street Journal. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.

* The Obama administration is undertaking a review of how it handles cases of U.S. citizens held captive by extremists abroad, according to a letter from a top Pentagon official made public Monday. (

* Hong Kong officials began clearing the fringe of the main location of a two-month-long pro-democracy demonstration, in the start of the city's effort to dislodge the encampments and ease the political standoff. (

* A Federal Reserve plan that could stop big banks from owning oil pipelines, metals warehouses and other physical-commodity assets is sounding alarm bells hundreds of miles from Wall Street. (

* The federal government's safety-net program for private pensions is running a near $62 billion long-term deficit, largely due to long-standing problems in a type of pension plan that is common in transportation, construction and some other industries. The problems are likely to bankrupt the federal safety-net program for so-called multiemployer pension plans within the next decade. (

* Actavis PLC agreed to pay $66 billion in cash and stock for Allergan Inc in a deal that appears to have prevented a hostile takeover of the Botox maker by Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. (

* A 2013 recall of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV's 1.6 million Jeeps over fuel-tank fires is becoming increasingly fraught as customers report a lack of parts and other problems preventing repairs to the vehicles. The challenges were highlighted last week when a Michigan woman died 15 miles from Chrysler Group's headquarters in a Jeep that had been recalled nearly 16 months earlier. (

* Samsung Electronics said it would reduce the number of smartphone models it offers next year, part of a move to cut costs to combat declining profit. It would cut the number of models by about 25 percent to 30 percent, Robert Yi, head of investor relations, said during a presentation in New York. (

* Sub-Saharan Africa has long lagged the West in corporate-governance practices, but a growing number of African companies have adopted International Financial Reporting Standards to attract global investors. (

* Sprint Corp's new Chief Executive Marcelo Claure is shuffling top executives as he tries to turn around the nation's struggling, third-place wireless carrier. In the memo, Claure named more than two dozen executives who are part of his core leadership team and announced two new positions of chief experience officer and chief procurement officer. (

* Merck & Co's drug Zetia proved effective at reducing risk of heart attacks, strokes and other heart problems in a long-awaited trial, marking a milestone in the 40-year-old battle to fight cardiovascular disease by lowering cholesterol. (

* SunEdison Inc and clean-power plant subsidiary TerraForm Power Inc are buying Boston-based renewable-energy company First Wind for $2.4 billion, a deal that would make SunEdison the world's largest renewable-energy-development company. (

* Shipping freight rates from Asia to Europe, the world's busiest trade route, logged their biggest-ever weekly drop, as European growth is stagnating and Japan just fell back into recession. Analysts said they expected further shipping-rate weakness because the peak demand season for Asian exports ahead of the end-of-year holidays is already over. (

* Honda Motor Co is pushing back the mass-market introduction of its fuel-cell car as it deals with the fallout from a series of safety recalls. Honda now plans to start selling its first mass-market fuel-cell car, which runs on hydrogen and emits only water vapor and heat, in Japan by the end of March 2016 instead of during 2015, Chief Executive Takanobu Ito said. (

* The most active mergers-and-acquisitions market in years sped into an even higher gear, as companies took advantage of rising stock prices to announce more than $100 billion in takeover deals. (

Compiled by Zara Mascarenhas in Bangalore

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